Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered
I’m producing an Earth Day concert Sunday 2 p.m. at Mitchell Park Bowl. I’m writing early Wednesday morning, or Tuesday night, depending how you look at it. So there’s four days, 4 times 24, plus 14 more hours to prepare, or a total of 110 hours to make this show a success. [Today is 4-20 — I’m high on concert-organizing — Ed]
What makes a concert, on Earth Day or any day, a success? Good question. At the very least, if the musicians come and play and then leave without obviously showing anger or disappointment at me, or the world, that is a point in favor. If people come to said concert, and have a reasonable time, that helps. The more the merrier, I would think, although I admit to rationalizing how good a show is even when I am (sometimes) disappointed with the turnout.
I’m not going to commit in print – -or here at Plastic Alto, on the world wide and forever web — to the idea that 100 people at Mitchell Park at 2 pm. Sunday is a good show, whereas only 20 people is not. I’d like to see 1,000 people. Is there any thing I can do to bring 1,000 people? (Besides hiring a more popular band or act: I really like Matt the Electrician and MC Lars — they both have played in my series, for Earthwise – – I know a fair amount of their respective song books – -they have more than 10 albums between them). In comparison, the Or Bareket – Jeremy Corren – Tivon Pennicott-Savannah Harris jazz show Monday at Lytton Plaza had, by my count, 80 people who stopped to watch, came on purpose, pulled out their cells or lingered more than they normally do, say, checking out the fountain.
I hope there is sun on Sunday, naturally enough, but I’m okay if it rains. We will tent the muscians, from sun or rain – and so far there are only two musicians. They are both one-man-bands. Matt plays a guitar and sings, Lars raps and pushes buttons on his computer. There’s a third solar-powered person who might just sing one or two songs, a capella.
For a couple days I sat at Lytton Plaza; ok, for a couple hours, on two or three days, and tried to hand out t-shirts and sign up volunteers for my Earth Day show. Not sure if the two or three people I met those days will come (or if they are wearing their shirts in the meanwhile; the shirts are black, I bought them at Nordstroms — they are vaguely environmental and say “Save the Planet” or “Hear the Silent Scream” or “Go SOLAR” or something that seemed to fit. “Why did you buy black t-shirts?”, asks my wife. “Are those dirty or clean?” she asks about the dishes. But I digress.
I have 12 other shows on sale and a half-dozen shows in progress in various ways, but I am going to punt all that until Monday after Earth Day. I have plans to see three baseball games but will cut that back too, now that I think about it. (Paly, A’s, Paly-SF).
Can I get 1,000 people out to Mitchell Park on Sunday, because they love music, the planet or our community? Is it enough of a gift that I can work these next 100 hours — ok, let’s say 40 hours — plus 40 hours of sleep — towards this goal, or these ideals? Right livelihood, baby. Maybe the difference-making factor influencing how I feel about my Earthwise Productions’ Earth Day featuring Matt The Electrician and MC Lars is how I use those other 20 spare hours I reference here, in my own calculus. How well can I focus? How well can I use my time? Is this box on my lap a help or a hinder?
More: there’s a poster by Evri Kwong, a North Bay artist I met at Smith Andersen several years ago – his art was featuring in the Chronicle and at The DeYoung in 2020, a show that opened right after the shutdown. Actually, it’s art by Evri Kwong and typography by Terry Acebo Davis. There are about a dozen of them around town and maybe I can put up another 100 or so. (There was a young person handing out a similar flyer at Earth Day for another event, Saturday; maybe I should follow her lead and just stand around passing out flyers).
Here is a link to the EventBrite page for Earthwise Welcomes Earth Day with Matt The Electrician and MC Lars. You don’t have to sign up to attend, but many people do. I should mention here that I worked on Bay Area Action Earth Day at Stanford (BAAEDAS — “bad ass”) in 1993, though not the concert part. The concert featured Michelle Shocked and Peter Apfelbaum. I remember it drizzled. Earthwise Traditions was a themed section of the event that featured indigenous views on the environment, the planet. I worked on that part of Earth Day, an activity that became my founding Earthwise Productions in 1994, pretty much my fulltime employment these 28 years.
Here is a link to a song MC Lars recorded and wrote at my suggestion, something about the indigenous people of Arcata and Humboldt – based partly on an essay written by my classmate at Dartmouth Andre Cramblit. Maybe Lars will perform the song Sunday – -it has likely never been played live, just in the studio.
Here’s his first verse; earthwise because it mentions trout, eel, grass hopper, trees and the river:
And you can go north, away from the traffic
Where time slows down and the world’s less frantic
The Land of the Grasshopper Song I’ve heard it called
South of Oregon and Klamath Falls
There’s the Trinity River, Mad and Siskiyou
The Eel and the Smith, and Van Duzen too
Doing back flips I saw a rainbow trout
In the clear cold water I forgot about the drought
Where the mountains keep on going, I would be a liar
If I said I wasn’t scared by the Slater Fire
I took two photos, before and after
I met a park ranger there was zero laughter
When I asked about the scope of the blaze
Paradise was lost and it burned for days
But you can still go swimming where the waters run deep
And big foot might be hiding watching in the redwood trees
and1: This is the poster for the famous Blink-182 show at Cubberley, Earth Day 1997 — I forgot that, as the poster shows, it was a two-show promotion called “Earth Day Rock N Bike” — we gave away a bike as a door prize: